Is David French the third party candidate?

Well, the Romney speculation aside, it seems that Bill Kristol has labored mightily and brought forth a mouse.

But if so, I'm going to vote for that mouse.

Reports are circulating that the independent conservative presidential candidate will be Iraqi Freedom veteran, Constitutional lawyer, and National Review writer David French.

Whether he meets Kristol's description of an "impressive" candidate with "a real chance" is debatable, to say the least. Mitt Romney, for one, speaks highly of French. By all accounts, he's a very smart man and a man of integrity. Other than having considerably more regard for the Constitution than Hillary or Il Duce, however, it's admittedly hard to see how his experience qualifications to be president.

Of course, the fact that he's an expert on the Constitution Donald Trump is apparently both ignorant of and indifferent to in and of itself makes him better qualified than Il Duce, who  has no visible qualifications whatsoever. Hillary has the resume but on the other hand, being a demonstrated national security risk does tend to make her record a bit less impressive. So does her grotesque mishandling of the Benghazi incident. One of French's specialties is the legal ramifications of the use of force in international relations. Perhaps his foreign policy expertise recommends him more highly than a failed Secretary of State as well.

Now, French has simply said that he's "open" to running. He has not made a decision. But he's apparently the guy Kristol had in mind when he tweeted what seems in retrospect to have been a rather overblown "heads up" last Friday that had me, for one, expecting Romney to be the man. Or at least former Sen. Tom Coburn. Or failing that, at least some obscure member of Congress.

But while nothing is official, it appears at the moment that it will be French. Now, I have a hard time imagining him giving Hillary and Il Duce much of a race. Rather than being a major third party threat like Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Progressives, or George Wallace's American Independent Party, or Ross Perot's Reform Party, a ticket headed by French looks more like something on the level of the Libertarians or the Greens or the Natural Law Party. I hope I'm wrong about that- I hope it turns out to be a bigger deal than that- but I'm skeptical at the moment. Maybe French will turn out to be a Fremont for a new party's better-known Lincoln four years from now.

Still, a French candidacy would serve the function of being a lifeboat for conservatives who draw the line at voting for a radical like Hillary or a fascist like Trump. It would take away the feeling of being disenfranchised. It would give us a reason to go to the polls if only to "represent."

And when Trump loses in November his supporters- whose contact with reality has never been especially strong- will doubtless blame the French candidacy rather than their own blunder in getting an unelectable and unstable clown nominated. Those folks are very good at convincing themselves that they've been stabbed in the back, even by people who owe Trump absolutely no allegiance whatsoever, much less their vote.

But I'm long since past caring what the Trump people think. Mind you, nothing is official yet; this is only a report, and the report says that French hasn't committed to running yet. But even if this is only a symbolic gesture- even if he's only a flag to fly- if David French is the third-party candidate, I'm with him.